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Discussion Starter #1
I'm considering purchasing either a fortwo or a MINI. I've taken both cars for a test drive and would be happy with either one. I'm just wondering if anyone here has spent considerable time with both cars and can share their experience. I'm finding it very hard to make a choice just based on my test drives.

My only car for 7 years was a BMW Z3, so I'm used to only having two seats and don't have a problem with the fortwo's lack of additional seating/storage.

Since this will be my only means of transportation my main concern is reliability.

Also, I was wondering how the smart handles in a rainstorm? I was lucky and got caught in a rainstorm while testing the MINI and was impressed.

Is the extended warranty offered by smart a bumper to bumper warranty like the 24 month/24,000 mile warranty? Is the extended warranty from smart or a third party? How does the tire warranty work?

Does anyone have any experience dealing with Orlando smart or Sarasota smart?

Thanks for any answers. I'm going to visit the smart dealership again in a couple of weeks when I get off work and just want to have a better understanding of the things mentioned above.
 

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I have a 2006 Mini and two smarts. Two different animals. Mini with same setup will be at least 25% more than the smart but all service is free for 3yrs/36000 miles. Warranty on Mini is twice as long.
Smart is great in a downpour like the Mini. I personally like driving the smart over the mini. You get DOWN into the Mini but when you drive it you feel like you want to go autocross somewhere and do left and right hand turns at 50 mph. You get IN the smart and don't have the same feel or desire to autocross, just drive and then drive some more.

The issue with both of these cars is dealer locations. I have to drive 1 1/2 hours to either. More options available for the Mini (Works, S etc.) Not sure I would want either as my ONLY car. Our backup is a Honda CRV that now only sees several thousand miles a year.

Time will tell how the smarts are. Haven't had them long enough. Mini has 40+K miles and is still like brand new, one smart has 20K miles and is holding up very very well.
 

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Thinking of buy a smart, but have questions...
Here's my take on it....an honest one. If money were no object, I would choose the Mini. A bit more room is a plus, but not as great MPG's as the smart...a minus.

Money was a concern for us, as we had THREE vehicles and didn't need another. We sold an 03 Corolla that was really a great car, just not 'fun'. I also dumped my Jeep that was my daily driver until gas went up to about $4/gal. I drive about 50-60 miles/day to and from work and I wanted something that got great gas mileage and would make my trek 'fun'. I got that with my smart.

But the smart is NOT for everyone. I would suggest driving one on more than just one occasion before you decide and do so in different weather. When I wanted to take one out once, I was told 'its about to rain, so lets stay close to the dealership if you don't mind'. WHY? Were they afraid the car would MELT and we would have to walk back?

I drive mine every day, in every weather condition from downpour to 12" of snow. It handled great. Wind can get kind of interesting if you're out on the interstate, but once you get the hang of it, it's not a big deal. In fact, we just took a trip from Indy to KC and back over a 4 day span and it was great. Very comfortable for the two of us. Only problem was the A/C 'froze up' due to the high heat and humidity, but that was short lived. Only lasted about 30-45 minutes and worked again just fine.

All in all I'm very happy with the decision to get the smart. We have put nearly 11K on our 2009 that we just got the last week of January. Not disappointed and hope we won't be for a long, long time. :)
 

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I have both a 2008 smart and 2008 mini cooper so I can speak about both. The main difference is the driving dynamics. The mini has been problem free since new and it is an absolute joy to drive. Like my old miata, you can toss it into a curve at ridiculous speeds and it drives like it is on rails. One of the best handling FWD vehicles on the road today. I get 35ish regularly with the 6-speed in the city, and 40-43mpg easily on the highway at 65mph-ish. The smart is a completely different vehicle... great when I know there's traffic so I don't have to shift. It is fun to drive in a different way, but for day trips I find the mini much more comfortable and while I never really feel "unsafe" in the smart, shutting the door in the mini is like sealing yourself in a bank safe. I drove the mini from NYC to SF when I moved in December and it was two people, 4 cats in cages and a TON of stuff and you can sit in it all day and remain comfortable.

If you like them both equally... I think the biggest issue would be $$$ and use: If you are only concerned about commuting to work, and short trips, you can save some money and get the smart. I will say that if it is your only car, one thing to keep in mind is where the closest two or three dealers are to your area. Should your dealer pack up and move, you'll need to know what you're getting yourself into should you need a repair. Just my 2cents.
 

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I've heard nothing but praise for the Orlando dealer and their maintenance crew. The Sarasota dealer I've never heard anything about either positive or negative.
Not knowing where exactly you're located - you may also want to consider the smartcenter Clearwater dealer located at Lokey Motors on US19. They're easy to deal with and have taken care of me for the past year nicely.
It was a toss up for me since I'm north of Tampa and the distance to Orlando and Clearwater were about the same. . . but I know the Clearwater area much better and am more comfortable with driving to them.
Good luck!
Oh and I love my smart! My 04 Nissan Murano sits in the garage until I remind myself to get it out and drive it~! :p
 

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The wife and I own both Cooper and Smart. She covets the Smart, as do I. The Cooper has done much worse than the Smart in staged crash tests, and does not get anywhere close to the Smart MPG: 33(best, with her lead foot)/49(best, with my driving the lunatic).
Cooper: better ride, much more room, more expensive.
Smart: empty nester? great fun to drive, best MPG and cheap to buy to boot. On a windy day, it's like flying a Light Observation Helo: you will feel any and all wind currents, even the small ones. But once you convince yourself the vehicle will NOT blow away (it is very stable in tracking), you will tend to just ignore the small, subtle axial changes. This is no boat.

Oh yeah: DIY changing the Cooper oil and filter is a 2 hour job, (jacking, angle of attack for the filter, etc), DIY for the Smart, start to finish, 30 minutes, laying on your back, no jacking needed.

My take: buy the Smart.
 

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I don't have a Mini,but i have a Smart Pure as my daily driver and have taken it in sorts of driving conditions and the car is really great. You would need to be very careful on a windy day as this car will get away from you due to the small size and the high roofline. I did drive a Dodge Maxivan for a coffee delivery service for over 5 years and then the huge vehicle did not do well on a high wind day. The only way to handle that is to drive it cautiously and ride in the wind not fighting it.
As far as the reliability of the car i have no qualms. I have 15.000 miles on it now, and it does me well. I do agree with some of the other posters on here that you should take more than one test drive and even get to know some of the guys on this site. You will find that a lot of them will show you their car and even let you drive it at least i had that pleasure. That way i knew what i was getting into and BTW no regrets. this car is a lot of fun to drive.
 

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For my size, I tried once to get into a Mini.... Couldn't even fit in the door unless I cut off my head. The dealer got a big laugh at me trying to fit in it. I drove back there after getting my Pure. he was amazed at how much room there was and said Imade the right choice for me. I did drive through the Minnesota wintewr with my Pure and only had problems once, I was pushing snow with the front bumper and the wife was having more problems the same day with her 4WD mountaineer. A great car!! The choice is up to you.
 

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One of the reasons that we have always purchased Toyotas o er the past thirty years is that I (with a leg handicap and a 6' 3" frame) have always been able to fit into them with ease, both in entering and exiting, and in sitting in them for long periods. This held true for Celicas, Starlets, Corollas, the original passenger van, Echoes, Tercels, Previas, Siennas and our current Scion xB (which is now our "big" car).

However, when advancing shopping the replacement for the Scion, I found (to my horror) that the Yaris was the end of the line. While I could sit in one without bumping the headliner, entry was virtually impossible. So much for Toyota.

(The Scion xB is a car that we would buy again in an instant. Great seating, versatile interior and cargo space, and all of the equipment that we were looking for. But, we do shop what else is available.)

The Smart forTwo is a great fit as far as general seating is concerned. The lack of sufficient reclining angle on the passenger side (it's too bolt upright the way it is shipped from the factory) was a disappointment, but that's been fixed now. All in all, we are glad that we went with the Smart vehicle - just enough car for the right amount of money.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks everyone for your replies. They have provided me with a lot to consider.

I went to both the MINI and smart dealer today (both about the same distance) and took an extended test drive in each. Both cars drive wonderfully. I was really amazed with how well the smart did at 80mph on the interstate.

Given my current situation (single, no children) and my use (mostly driving to work) I've decided to get the smart. Probably the longest trip I would take are just 1-2 hour roadtrips on the weekends.

Also, the price of the smart is just much more reasonable for my needs.

I've been working with the Orlando dealer today to try to find something in stock. Unfortunately, they don't have the exact color combo I want. I plan on going to Sarasota tomorrow since they said they have exactly what I want on the lot. I may also stop in Clearwater on the way back if time permits to see what is available.

Hopefully I'll have my car soon.

BTW, now I understand why everyone likes the paddles shifters.
 

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Thoughts from 120,000 miles

I drive 95 miles one-way to work, four times per week. I have over 120,000 miles on my 2008 car.
Here are some of my experiences:
I get great milage- duh. But fuel economy has improved in other models so much in the past four years that good mileage is no longer so rare.
It is a bumpy ride- kind of like an enclosed motorcycle. You will feel it when a semi-truck passes by.
I get teased incessantly- but I don't care about that part.
My head lights have burned out at least 3 times.
My mother has a smart car too-- We are BOTH experiencing transmisison problems. I think it's electrical; sometimes it just does not want to go into gear. The dealership can never seem to find/fix this problem.
If you accidentially bump the key in the ignition while you are driving, your car will 'die.' I experienced this twice, once in my driveway and once on the freeway!
I blew a cylinder when I had about 90,000 miles on the car and it cost a TON to fix. The biggest drawback about this car is that it is serviced by Mercedes.
I've saved thousands of dollars in gasoline compared to my last car, so I still feel like I'm ahead.
Good luck :)
 

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had a similar issue with losing gears during a particularly rainy season. I ended up drying out all the electrical plugs I could find underneath the motor/transmission and filled them with dielectric grease. No problems since and it has been almost a year and a half.
 

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Smartypants7, there is a transmission memory update that corrects the going into reverse issue if that is what you are experiencing. It is well worth doing as it improves the shift points as well. It is not as abominable at shifting into fifth gear in the low thirty mph speed range. It also downshifts more readily instead of hogging fifth gear like it used to. Nice upgrade. I still manually override the auto mode when I want to go NOW, in a lower gear. It does what I want it to do, more often than not which makes for a fun drive in a zippy little car.
The Brabus edition rides like it is on rails. I was amazed at how sticky this little car is to the road when driving the twists and turns of the Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina. As long as you steered it to go there, it went there. :p It is an amazing handling setup with the Brabus tweaks. Do NOT however, expect to glide over a deep pot hole. You ARE going to feel that, and hear it as well!
Ceramic disc brakes greatly improve the enjoyment factor of the car by eliminating brake dust entirely from the front wheels. Well worth the easy upgrade. I'm glad I did that upgrade.
 

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What he said



had a similar issue with losing gears during a particularly rainy season. I ended up drying out all the electrical plugs I could find underneath the motor/transmission and filled them with dielectric grease. No problems since and it has been almost a year and a half.
 

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Since this will be my only means of transportation my main concern is reliability.

Our smart cabrio will be 5 years old in May. It has 30,000 miles or so.

The car has been perfect. Other than regular maintenance and replacing tires (cheap!) and a few bulbs after these have burned out, the only failure was a headlight unit and that was covered by the original warranty.
 

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Holy Zombie Thread Batman!!
I'm not popping my popcorn yet. I have a feeling Smartypants7 might not return...
 

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Thanks BB Benz....but

Hi BB Benz,
Thanks for the suggestion--although I'm afraid to even look for the cost of such upgrades. Aren't ceramic breaks exceedingly expensive- like those used on high end production cars like Ferraris? One of the appeals about the smart was its reasonable price.
 
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